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Holiday Celebration marks end of 2017

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Rev. Quientrell Burrell Jr., left, dances with Mazie McDuffy, 70, on stage at the 16th annual Holiday Celebration sponsored by the staff and management of H.D. Pope Funeral Home and Henson and Fuerst, Attorneys at Law Saturday at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Dunn Center on the campus of N.C. Wesleyan College was filled with music, food and laughter Saturday night as the 16th annual Holiday Celebration lasted from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The event is sponsored annually by the management and staff of H.D. Pope Funeral Home in partnership with Henson and Fuerst, Attorneys at Law. The event rotates each year between Rocky Mount and Roanoke Rapids, drawing a crowd at each location. On Saturday night, more than 1,200 people registered for the event, but event organizers estimated that at least 1,700 attended.

Retired U.S. Army Chaplain Joshua Pair, who now manages the Towne Center in Littleton, said he lives in Northhampton County, drove to Rocky Mount to attend the event.

“This has been a wonderful event,” Pair said. “I come to this event every year.”

Cynthia Butler said she and her family also follow the event each year.

“It’s real good,” Butler said. “This is my fourth year coming to the event. We went to Roanoke Rapids last year and are back in Rocky Mount this year. Last year, we won one of the gift cards they give out here at the event.”

Alicia Butler said the Holiday Celebration has become a place for family to gather each year.

“This is sort of a new tradition for us and we use it as a family bonding activity,” Butler said.

Hubert Pope said his business began the Holiday Celebration 16 years ago as a way to draw the community together.

“This is my way of being able to bring together people of all statuses and races,” Pope said. “It gives us a chance to network with the people in the community and say ‘Thank you” for their support through the years.”

The evening began with more than two hours of gospel performances. Afterwards, as food was served, the Black Diamond Band performed in the side lobby of the Dunn Center, while a professional D.J. played tunes in the front lobby. Pope said the event allows amateur performers in the community to have a place to highlight their talents.

“We try to put amateur performers together with professionals at this event each year,” Pope said. “We have had four performers who were able to perform on television because of the connections they made at this event.”

Pope also said the event helps support other community efforts that H.D. Pope Funeral Home engages in each year.

“We also sponsor a coat drive and a food drive,” Pope said. “For this event, people just had to bring canned goods for the food drive.”

With music, food and a chance to do good, the holiday celebration seems a good way for many area residents to end the year.

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